Movies about heists are gimmick-driven things, which is why so few are worth remembering. They live and breathe on some corny and forced plot twist at the end -- "The crook is really a cop!" "The cop is really a crook!" -- because the rest of the movie is usually obvious and boilerplate. There are standard-issue shots of men in masks breaking into the bank/mansion/store, led by some crusty old expert who's famous for his heists, though not so famous that the cops have caught on, but he's having second thoughts about being in the business, and so on. You don't even have to see The Score to know how it goes, and Heist is David Mamet's dullest film - so dull it didn't even try to come up with an interesting title.
So, fair warning: Jean-Pierre Melville's 1970 Le Cercle Rouge (in re-release by Rialto Pictures with a blessing by John Woo) is just a heist film. It has all the familiar elements detailed above. Why, then, is it a masterpiece?
Continue reading: Le Cercle Rouge Review